25 December

On the stage the lights dimmed until only a single follow spot shone. There was a restrained intake of breath as those watching saw the light was shining not where they expected, but on the donkey, who stood up on its hind legs and looked back at the audience, shading its eyes with a hoof. There was silence. The donkey dropped back to all fours and slowly walked off stage. Silence again, broken by a slowly growing wave of applause, of cheering and shouting, of wiping away of tears. Lives had changed.

inspired by the day

Father Christmas

Julia, 3 years old, is sitting on my lap

Are you Father Christmas?

No, no I’m not.

But you’ve got a white beard.

Yes, but that’s because I didn’t shave during the lockdown.

And you bring us presents.

Yes, but that’s in the summer when we visit, not at Christmas.

And you’ve got a big big belly!

Ok, you got me. I AM Father Christmas!

First day back in the office

First day back in the office. Drifts of unwanted high-calorie gifts pile up in the kitchen. A thin Mexican wave of coughing sweeps across the open-plan office; when it reaches the meeting room door there is an expectant silence as people wonder if it will gain admittance. A second or two later than expected, they hear that it has. People smile quietly and drop tissues in the bin. Darren is still wearing his antlers.

Christmas was great

The red star on the topmost branch is dangling a little off centre. Jon is sprawled on the rug in front of the dead fire, his head on a pillow of DVDs, his feet in a pile of chocolate wrappers. A light-up plastic penguin is peering down its beak at him.

Christmas was great, he says to himself. Christmas was great.

Too soon

It’s December 11th. I was be-antlered in the office today – be-antlered, not cornuto. Too soon, everyone said. But it’s Christmas two weeks today, I said. That’s not what we mean, they said, and looked at Kieren.

Taking down the decorations

In the Gardens the last of the decorations are being taken down. An upside-down Santa’s face leans against a chipped two-dimensional reindeer. A child screams from its fur-filled buggy. Bright yellow men are carrying, just, a slab of decking as wide as it is long. For some reason there are seven men on one side and four on the other. Nobody watching is surprised when their path, from a straight line towards the gate, becomes a graceful, then lurching, arc into an iron-railed corner.